Bird flu-driven price hikes may make turkey shoppers sick

turkeyAs shoppers begin to flock to grocery stores to buy their Thanksgiving Day turkeys, they may be irritatingly reminded of the fundamental concept in economics involving supply and demand.

Because of a lower supply of turkeys due to this past spring’s bird flu outbreak, shoppers will likely be paying more to meet the demand for thick and juicy slices of moist white meat, and those oddball requests for slices of dark meat.

According to a recent article by Reuters, frozen turkey stocks in September totaled 268.0 million pounds, down 21.3 million from August and 29.2 million less than September 2014, based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture data. Total hens, the centerpiece of most Thanksgiving meals, last month at 130.1 million pounds, dropped 30 million pounds from August and 25 million from last year.

“There won’t be as many turkeys as last year, but a shortage means you can’t get them which is not the case,” said independent market analyst Bob Brown in the article. “But, the prices you pay may be higher.”

Brown added that he was reluctant to declare the supply reduction a “shortage,”, which he said will be dictated more by how much consumers are willing to pay and whether they will turn more to another holiday staple — hams.

According to another article by Reuters, this past spring’s outbreak of bird flu resulted in the loss of 48 million chickens and turkeys.

According to the USDA, the bird flu outbreak began in mid-December 2014, and several highly pathogenic avian influenza incidents occurred along the Pacific, Central and Mississippi Flyways, which are routes used by migrating birds.

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